Saturday 7 April 2018

Carry On Faces in Different Places: A Pair of Briefs

Here we go with another in my series of blogs looking at some of the cream of British comedy film making from the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Although this blog is all about the Carry Ons, believe it or not, there were some other joyous comedy films made away from Peter Rogers Productions. However, given the quality of the actors Peter employed to make his series, it's no wonder that most of them popped up elsewhere.

So far I've looked at the wonderful 1959 crime caper Too Many Crooks , the 1954 domestic comedy starring Dirk Bogarde, For Better For Worse , the big screen spin off Please Sir! and the wonderful Up Pompeii and the brilliant John Gregson and Diana Dors vehicle, Value for Money. 
More recently I blogged about the Sid James and Kenneth Connor comedy horror What A Carve Up! and the the Gordon Jackson drama, Floodtide. 

I've also looked at the Carry On links with the wonderful film I'm All Right Jack

Recently I blogged about the Billy Fury and Amanda Barrie musical film I've Gotta Horse and the classic 1954 school comedy The Belles of St Trinian's

Today I'm going to blog about the 1962 romantic comedy from the Betty Box and Ralph Thomas stable, A Pair of Briefs.

What's it about?

The "Brief" of the title refers to the document which a solicitor in the UK court system writes to instruct a barrister who will plead the solicitor's case in court. Unfortunately barristers Tony Stevens and Frances Pilbright, as juniors, receive nothing but routine briefs concerning sewers. When a juicy brief concerning a writ for "restitution of conjugal rights" appears, they take opposite sides in the case. Pilbright works fiercely for her client, a woman whose marriage was disrupted by the Second World War. Stevens advocates for the other side, a man who denies that he was ever married to the plaintiff, although all records have been destroyed during bombing raids. For her part, the woman claims that her husband left her after she temporarily lost her memory. The two barristers squabble in court, inevitably becoming attracted to each other in the process.
Pilbright, about to lose the case, makes a furious declaration in which she declares "the Law is an Ass!". Stevens, by this time, has more sympathy for her and joins her in this. In their zeal, they offend the presiding judge, Justice Haddon. Taking them aside, he privately informs them that the suit is intended to fail, as the woman has married a millionaire and wants to remove any grounds for her previous husband to blackmail her, so their efforts were for nothing. By this time, however, the two barristers are in love.

Who's in it?

The two leading roles are played by Michael Craig (Tony) and Mary Peach (Frances). By this stage, Craig was something of a regular in light film comedies, taking over pretty much where Dirk Bogarde had left off. Also in the cast is Betty Box and Ralph Thomas regular James Robertson Justice playing Mr Justice Heddon. 

Brenda De Banzie, who had last acted with Michael Craig in the 1956 spy drama House of Secrets, plays Gladys Worthing while supporting parts are played by familiar faces in Ron Moody and Roland Culver.

Carry On Faces?

Liz Fraser, at the time a Carry On regular in the likes of Carry On Regardless and Cruising, co-stars as Gloria Hoskins. Two more glamorous Carry On faces also provide support - series regular Joan Sims plays a stripper by the name of Gale Tornado (!) while her partner in crime is Amanda Barrie, credited simply as Exotic Dancer (snake). At the time Joan was on a break from the Carry Ons, while Amanda would soon appear in Doctor in Distress (again for Box) and Carry On Cabby (for Betty's husband Peter Rogers).

Terry Scott plays yet another policeman in a small role as a policeman at the Law Courts while Carry On Cruising supporting actor Ronnie Stevens pops up playing a hotel under manager. Several other Carry On faces appear in small, uncredited roles. Cyril Chamberlain plays a policeman, Anthony Sagar a hotel meat porter and Michael Ward turns up playing a Dresser.  

Did you know?

The film is co-written by the actor Nicholas Phipps, who also appears on screen in the role of Sutcliffe. 

This was the actress Judy Carne's first film. She would go on to forge a successful career in America and would marry the actor Burt Reynolds the year after A Pair of Briefs was released. 

You can follow me on Twitter @CarryOnJoan and on Instagram

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